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Teacher leadership in an early literacy initiative : roles and perspectives Jara, Debra Yoko

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine teacher leadership in literacy from the perspective of the literacy leaders in the Hampton School District Early Literacy Initiative (ELI). The Hampton School District ELI is a grassroots movement aimed at improving literacy instruction in the district. The literacy leaders in this study are classroom teachers who serve as literacy mentors in the district, or school coordinators within their respective schools. Two literacy mentors and thirty-seven school coordinators responded to a questionnaire and six of these literacy leaders participated in one-on-one interviews. The results revealed that they had perceptions of leadership that ranged from a more traditional, managerial view of leadership to a transformational, constructivist view of leadership. However, while not all the literacy leaders in the study considered themselves to hold a leadership position, most leaders perceived their role within the ELI to be a transformational, constructivist one. Most participants did not take on the role for the leadership experience. The study found that the participants believed an interest in literacy and good organizational, interpersonal and communication skills were characteristics that helped them function effectively in their role. Literacy mentors also stated that being a classroom teacher was helpful. Challenges the participants identified included lack or resources, such as time, and money for release time and the need for more professional development. Participants experienced benefits such as increased opportunities for learning and collaboration with their colleagues. The study also concludes that literacy leaders experience fewer challenges as they work toward school improvement and the change process when teachers set the goals and work together in their implementation.

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